Driverless car startup FiveAI raises £26.8 million from VCs and government funds

UK autonomous vehicle startup FiveAI has raised £26.8 million in equity funding and from government funds.

The company, which is building the technology for urban driverless cars, has raised £14 million in a Series A round led by Lakestar Capital with participation from Amadeus Capital Partners, Notion Capital, and Kindred on top of £12.8 million in government funding for the StreetWise project, of which FiveAI is a member.

StreetWise is a consortium of parties tasked with developing and carrying out a driverless car trial by 2019 in London to ease traffic congestion and reduce commute times. Other members include McLaren Applied Technologies and insurer Direct Line Group. The organisation describes itself as the “de facto national competitor” to Google’s Waymo and Uber.

The development of driverless cars in Europe requires a different tact, compared to the US or Asia, according to the company.

“Dense European cities present totally different technical, behavioural, regulatory and infrastructure challenges to their US and Chinese counterparts for safe urban driverless technologies,” said Dharmash Mistry of Lakestar Capital, who will be joining FiveAI’s board. "By assembling its talented team in the UK and seeking to support London’s transport objectives in partnership with the city itself, FiveAI can play a vital role in reducing congestion, emissions, costs, accidents and journey times, boosting the city economy at the same time.”

The new funds will be used to build an SAE level four vehicle for traveling in urban settings. SAE levels refer to the levels of automation in a vehicle, set by SAE International. Level four is the second highest point of automation.

“London has one of the best public transport systems in the world,” said Stan Boland CEO of FiveAI. “Cycling, walking, buses and trains offer a great service for most commuters, but some journeys are still being served by personal or individual transport. Initially we’ll target these journeys with our shared mobility solution which will also pave the way for potential large-scale autonomous public transport in the future.”

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